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Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners

VETCH & LEGUMES

Vetches is a general term referring to many plants belonging to the legume or bean family. Many are used as ground covers (Crown vetch) or as a green manure crop to improve the soil (Hairy vetch).

Hairy vetch, a true Vetch in the Vicia genus, is often sown in the fall and plowed under the following spring. The plant is an annual and will die out.

Crown vetch, is not a true vetch, though it is a legume. It was or is commonly used by transportation departments to control erosion on banks and interchanges. Crown vetch is drought and cold hardy, disease resistant and seems to grow on the worst possible soils. However, this pink flowering perennial plant tends to become weedy, and allows a perfect habitat for burrowing animals, which isn't the best thing on banks. Plants don't respond to close mowings.

As an interesting side note, the FAVA or FABA bean, made famous by the movie The Silence of the Lambs, is really a vetch, instead of a type of garden bean.

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